Chicago Cubs promote top prospect Ian Happ ahead of Saturday’s game

Mar 10, 2017; Peoria, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Ian Happ (86) hits a single against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2017; Peoria, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Ian Happ (86) hits a single against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning at Peoria Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs promote top prospect Ian Happ ahead of Saturday’s game in St. Louis. He will bat second and play right field in his big-league debut.

Ian Happ’s MLB debut will come much sooner than expected.

According to ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers, the Cubs will call up Happ for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Cardinals. The team needs help in the wake of several players going down with various ailments.

The Cubs selected Happ ninth overall in the 2015 MLB Draft out of the University of Cincinnati. Entering the 2017 season, MLB.com ranked him the Cubs’ #2 prospect, second only to OF Eloy Jimenez.

Happ has enjoyed tremendous success through 26 games with Triple-A Iowa. In 104 at-bats, he is hitting .298 with nine home runs and 25 RBI. As Carrie Muskat noted, Happ suffered a left thumb injury in early May. In five games after returning from the 7-day DL, he has gone 10-for-20 with one home run and eight RBI.

Playing time available?

When healthy, there really is no consistent playing time available for Happ with the Cubs. Unfortunately for the team, though, the Cubs currently have several players battling different injuries.

The Cubs placed Jason Heyward on the 10-day DL (retroactive to May 6) due to a sprained finger. Addison Russell has been battling a sore right shoulder this week; Kris Bryant missed Friday’s game and will miss Saturday’s due to an illness. Jon Jay exited last night’s game due to back spasms. Ben Zobrist is also batting back problems early this season.

Luckily for the Cubs, Happ is versatile enough to fill in for any of the aforementioned players. Over the course of his 26 games with Triple-A Iowa, Happ has played every outfield spot as well as second base. While he will play right field Saturday, Happ essentially could play all over the diamond as needed.

Happ’s stay with the Cubs could come and go before next week begins. Heyward could be activated off of the DL as soon as Tuesday. At the same time, Russell, Bryant and Jay’s ailments might not even require time on the DL.

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Regardless of how long he stays with the Cubs, Cubs fans should celebrate Happ’s MLB promotion. He is now Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s fourth first

-round draft pick to make it to the big leagues. If the trend continues, Happ should have a solid MLB career ahead of him.